While debating the budget of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals on Friday and Saturday, some MPs are heard to have accused their colleagues in rather vehement terms of taking bribes in order to drive personal instead of national issues.
The accusers, however, did not name the erring legislators, who are said to receive the bribes in return for their support an up welling bid to oust the ministry’s top leadership Minister Sospeter Muhongo and Permanent Secretary Eliakim Maswi.
According to the MPs who stood firmly to defend the two leaders, the bribe monies were allegedly sourced from the oil companies that won a deal through the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) tender board, but which were later revoked by the Ministry due to technical grounds.
To defend their position as well as that of these companies, according to some legislators, the ‘bribery’ scheme was hatched to get the support of some MPs in order to ensure that the two men are ousted.
In particular, the PS is on the spotlight for allegedly awarding a multibillion shillings tender to Puma Energy (T) Ltd – also allegedly contrary to the Public Procurement Act. His accusers first wanted him to resign, short of which they would block the ministry’s budget estimates for 2012/13 -- as they did last year, during the famous ‘David Jairo’ fundraising saga.
As it turned out, some of the MPs are now saying the anti-Maswi group was being ‘bankrolled’ by the so-called corrupt corporations -- whose intention was to render the country ‘ungovernable’ -- with MPs spending most of their time debating various energy scandals.
We at The Guardian on Sunday believe that these are very grave allegations that should be investigated thoroughly by either a Parliamentary committee or the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
As a nation cannot afford to have a corrupt Parliament or corrupt MPs who are paid to drive the Paymaster’s agenda. We can’t also afford to have a Parliament where MPs trade accusations against each other without giving the proof, so that those accused are ‘nailed’ according to the law.
Short of that these allegations will seriously damage the image of Parliament—which many believe is the watchdog that monitors how the other two branches of the State operate.
Now the danger is that when the watchdog ‘bites’ a bait instead of a thief, it becomes the lapdog that dances to the tune of its paymaster, in this case, the corporations who paid the bill to facilitate the dance.
We beg Madam Speaker, Anne Makinda, to stand above party politics and form a probe team to investigate the allegations against any of her colleagues who had a hand – if any – in this murk.
For quite sometime now, we have been hearing these allegations before; some of our MPs are said to have been paid bribes to ‘crucify’ some top government officials, notably ministers, whom they considered ‘a threat’ to the crooks in our midst, but all these claims were not issued directly in the Parliament. Finally, our MPs have now decided to ‘spill the beans’. What we need is action now; but in order to take action, credible or watertight evidence is needed. To get this watertight evidence, we need an independent probe committee to investigate the scandal.
Recently some MPs were trapped, and one of them finally arrested, for receiving Sh1million bribes from an employee of Mkuranga District Council. He has been charged before the court of law, and the trial is still underway.
But should these allegations fail the test of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ then those who issued them should also be held responsible for tarnishing the image of the Parliament -- as well as that of their fellow MPs.
In investigating these allegations, fairness should prevail for both sides. It doesn’t make sense to have a culture of double standards. All individuals should be treated equally and fairly according to the laws of the land.
In the same way, Parliament should also treat all individuals be they MPs, government officials or ministers – fairly and equally.